There’s no question about it: the world of work is changing. Though remote work certainly did not originate with the COVID-19 pandemic, in the wake of widespread global lockdowns, millions of workers found themselves in the virtual office space for the first time. What policies should remote businesses implement to support their success?
As the economy reopens and life seems to be returning to some semblance of normalcy, a significant proportion of businesses and employees alike have proven reluctant to entirely abandon the remote model. Indeed, a whopping 78% of US employees currently working from home state that they prefer to continue working remotely at least part of the time.
Whether your business has already transitioned to the remote environment or you’re considering launching new online operations, though, there are some strategies you can implement today to enhance your employees’ performance and improve your business’s chances for success.
A bad onboarding experience isn’t good for any employee, but it can be especially detrimental for remote workers. We all know that, in life as in work, first impressions are everything. They set the tenor for the relationship. Thus, when your employees experience a confusing, chaotic, or generally incomplete and incomprehensible training experience, your recruits will, at the very least, feel as if your company isn’t setting them up for success. That’s not the message you want to send if you hope to attract and retain top talent.
This is especially true when it comes to onboarding remote employees. The remote environment is inherently stressful for new workers. This is because they’re tasked with adapting to an unfamiliar work environment, mastering company policies, and learning job requirements and expectations, all without the benefit of real-time, face-to-face feedback and instruction.
Thus, it’s imperative to institute remote onboarding procedures that clearly outline company-wide as well as job-specific policies, standards, and expectations. These onboarding policies should also include clear guidelines regarding reporting and communication. New remote employees should know, for example, exactly when and whom to contact with questions, concerns, or status updates.
For all the advantages that remote work provides, including the ability to eliminate the commute and avoid childcare expenses, there are several unique challenges associated with remote work. This includes significant mental health concerns relating to anxiety, isolation, and loneliness.
Instituting robust health and wellness policies for your remote employees will not only support the employees’ quality of life but it will also enhance job satisfaction, productivity, and performance.
Providing access to mental healthcare, offering flex time and generous paid time off (PTO) packages, and gifting employees with discounted gym and spa memberships are just a few of the ways you can help your remote workers take care of themselves in mind, body, and spirit.
One of the greatest risks a remote business can face is that of cybercrime. This is why it’s imperative to protect your company, your clients, and your employees by establishing a clear and robust cybersecurity policy.
This policy should include specific guidelines for securing mobile devices and other technology used for work. For example, you might require that all cell phones and tablets used for work be password or biometrics-protected. Similarly, you might set up a secure VPN which employees must log onto if they are to retrieve, create, or share work products.
Your employees don’t have to be directly involved in marketing to end up engaging with clients and partners through social media and other digital platforms. Indeed, today’s consumers increasingly expect to engage with the businesses they support, which often includes communicating with staff through online platforms, from community discussion forums to company blogs.
This means that your employees, no matter their specific job role, will almost inevitably be involved in marketing your company, even if only informally. To capitalize on today’s immense and unprecedented capacity for businesses to engage with clients in the virtual world, you need to have a comprehensive plan not only for content marketing but also for social media marketing.
This should include specific guidelines and requirements on when and how your employees, no matter their role, are to interact with your customers through social media or other digital platforms.
You may, for example, require remote sales teams to engage daily with your digital marketing teams to devise up-to-date social media content, such as helping to formulate responsive posts that address clients’ online questions and comments in real time. These social media policies should enable remote employees to engage with customers online in ways that align with, advance, and modify as needed the company’s existing social media strategy.
To promote efficiency and performance in your online operations, you’re also going to need to ensure that your employees are clear about your payroll and time-tracking policies. For instance, many remote businesses will offer telecommuting stipends to compensate employees for their technology expenditures. This can also incentivize these employees to upgrade their tech to ensure optimal security and performance.
In addition to clarifying when, if, and how your pay schedules for remote workers differ from those of on-campus employees, you will also need to specify if and how work time will be tracked. You may require your employees to work a regular, pre-determined schedule or you may allow your team to set their own hours each day. In that case, you may offer a pre-determined salary or you may use a time-tracking application, such as Clockify, for employees who are paid hourly wages.
Whatever methods you determine are best for your company, your employees must be clearly apprised of your protocols well before their first day on the job even begins!
Remote work may well be the future of the labor force, but that does not mean that the transition from the physical to the virtual campus will be seamless. To ensure the success of your remote business, it’s imperative to be proactive and strategic. This includes establishing robust policies for onboarding, supporting employee wellness, promoting cybersecurity, optimizing social media and content marketing, and performing payroll and time-tracking.